Western Illinois University will lay off 24 faculty members, including seven who have tenure, by next summer, the institution’s Board of Trustees announced Thursday. Two nonfaculty members in academic affairs also will soon receive layoff notices. Twenty-three professors at the Macomb campus will lose their jobs, along with one professor at the Quad Cities campus in Moline, WQAD reported. Some 62 vacant faculty positions that are open due to retirements or resignations will be eliminated as well.
Cathy Early, board chair, said in a statement that institutions “must continually re-evaluate their methods of delivery and recalibrate to meet the ever-changing challenges and opportunities. We are making these decisions in order to reposition Western for future growth, viability and sustainability, while remaining fiscally responsible to our students and taxpayers.”
Bill Thompson, president of the institution’s American Federation of Teachers-affiliated union, University Professionals of Illinois, said the move marked “another dark day for Western Illinois University,” according to WQAD. While faculty and academic staff members didn’t cause the institution’s current drop in enrollment, he said, they “once again are being let go to pay for the failure of the administration to successfully address the decline.” Students don’t come to a university because of its administration, he said, but “because of the faculty and the curriculum the faculty teach. Students come to work with the faculty who will challenge them to surpass their teachers, that is to go forward, learn more, do more. When faculty are laid off, those opportunities decrease. And that can never be a good thing.”